Monday, February 1, 2010

Barack Obama Is Off Message

The President:

We had this enormous opportunity, but the way the rules work in the United States Senate, you’ve got to have 60 votes for everything. After the special election in Massachusetts, we now only have 59. We are calling on our Republican colleagues to get behind a serious health reform bill, one that actually provides not only the insurance reforms for people who do have health insurance but also the coverage for folks who don’t. My hope is, is that they accept that invitation and that they work with us together over the next several weeks to get it done.

No no no no no. You don't have to have 60 votes for everything in the United States Senate. Republicans have demanded 60 votes for everything. There's nothing preventing Mitch McConnell from saying "I oppose health care reform, but I'm willing to let it pass and then blame Democrats for every one of its million teeny tiny failings". Nor is there anything preventing Olympia Snowe from doing the same thing. Or Judd Gregg, or Jim DeMint.

The first stem is admitting you have a problem. The 60-vote threshold is both a rule and a norm. If we're going to attack the rule, we can't just accept the norm and ask Republicans to work within it.
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